How to Re-Route Using a Garmin 800

The technique described below may work in a similar way on other Garmin models and on other sat navs and navigation devices but they have not been tested.

What do you do if you are navigating a route or course using your Garmin 800 and you get lost? Perhaps you lost concentration and suddenly realise that you should have made a turn and are now miles away from the route.  Do you retrace your steps?  Or should you use the ‘recalculate route’ function?

The answer is probably neither. 

There is probably a quicker way back to your intended route than following back the way you have just come.  If nothing else, retracing your steps is demoralising.  But you shouldn’t use the recalculate route option either.

When I first started using a sat nav I thought that if I got lost and rerouted then the sat nav would take me back to the closest part of my loaded route, after all, if I was using a paper map that is what I would do. Unfortunately the sat nav is not that sophisticated: it will simply take the point where you are and your final destination and then plot a new route between the two, based upon the settings you have given it (things like avoid highways, avoid tolls etc..).  This is unlikely to be the same route you loaded, especially if you are on a circular route.

So how can you navigate back to the route without losing the original navigation on your route?

Step One

Flick through the screens on your Garmin until you locate the map screen.  Zoom the view out by clicking on the ‘-’ symbol until you can see your route.  By eye locate a point on your route where you could re-join it.  Then zoom in on the point using the ‘+’.  You will probably have to move around on the map if you are some distance from your route.  To do this click on the ‘arrows’ symbol and then drag your finger around the screen to move the map.

Step Two

Once you have located the point where you would like to re-join the route and zoomed in to get sufficient detail, press that point on the screen with your finger.  A large pin should appear.  You can drag it around if it is not quite in the right place.

Step Three

Now press the location name box or the symbol with three lines at the top of the screen.  A new screen will appear giving a grid reference for the point and the distance to it (in a straight line).  Click on the Go button at the bottom of the screen.

Step Four

The sat nav will now navigate you to the selected point.  Once you reach that point and re-join your original route the sat nav should then automatically continue navigating along that route.

You can also use this technique to navigate around impassable obstructions, such as closed roads (although few are closed enough to stop a determined cyclist) or obstructed paths.  You may have to do a two part operation though, one to take you away from the obstruction and another to get you back to the route, otherwise the sat nav will probably just route you through the obstruction again, after all, it doesn’t know it is there!

Iconic Climb on A9 Due to Change

The steep hairpin climb at Berriedale Braes on the A9 is the last really major effort that those heading north have to face before John O’Groats.  Its hairpin bend and then relentless slog up past the cemetery will be indelibly burnt into the memory of anyone who has completed the route.  But it looks like that might all change.

It appears that the hairpin bend causes more problems for trucks than cyclists and a new route has been proposed.  You will note that the new route (see below) is slightly longer but consequently might help to take the sting out of the climb.

When the changes will take place is unclear and the local authority has been accused of dragging its heels over the plan.

Incidentally, when I last cycled through in 2014 there were traffic lights before the hairpin, which were a complete pain.

Is Cycling End to End Too Dangerous?

In 2009 when I set out on my first end to end I had spent little time thinking about safety.  I had devised a route that was built for speed, utilising busy main roads, many of which were dual carriageways.  I was living in the invulnerability bubble that many cyclists inhabit before it is burst by an errant driver.

Since 2009 I have been knocked from my bike twice, once by a driver making a right turn without indicating, just in front of me, and once by a lorry changing lanes from the outside lane, though the inside lane and into the cycle lane!

My last two end to ends were a quest to find a safer route.  Okay, it wasn’t hard to find a safer route than my original one but I wanted one as safe as possible without detouring miles and miles away from a relatively straight line.  I was spurred on by the news of two fatalities on the A30: end to end charity cyclists on their first day.  The lorry driver that mowed them down has recently been sentenced to eight years.  Click here for my earlier rant on the sentence.

The first attempt was good but still had some very dangerous stretches in it.  So I re-routed and set off again.  This time the route was much quieter and safer.

However, just whilst I am in the process of creating the route as a set of downloadable gpxs, news of another end to end fatality has hit us.  Again a lorry is involved and the cyclist was on her first day, this time starting from John O’Groats. (Link to story).

The accident happened in Bettyhill, right in the north of Scotland, the cyclist probably following the popular route to Lairg.  I haven’t ridden on the road in question but imagine it is probably one of the quietest roads in the country.  It has left me with the question hanging, can I promote a safer cycling route when cyclists are being killed on ‘safe’ roads?  Is cycling end to end inherently dangerous and should I be encouraging people to cycle it at all?

I don’t have an answer yet…

LEJOG 2014

When I cycled lejog last year I cycled the route suggested by Google Maps at the time.  I say ‘at the time’ because routing for bicycles on Google Maps is in beta testing and therefore being altered and updated regularly as problems are discovered and improvements are made.

The route proved to be 90% excellent and 10% rubbish.  nearly the whole trip was spent cycling along quiet lanes, canal tow paths and cycle ways along disused railway lines etc..  But some of the trip was on completely contrasting, manically busy main roads, normally transitioning between quieter sections.

In a quest to find as quiet and safe a route as possible I have re-routed to avoid busy roads where ever possible and plan to ride the route in June to test it.  If I am happy with it I will split it into 50 mile sections and make GPX downloads available through my website

I will be riding in support of War Child.  War Child provide life-changing support to the most vulnerable children whose families, communities and schools have been torn apart by war. You can find out more about them here.

If you would like to donate you can do so here.

Route All Sorted

I’ve been through the route and corrected the most obvious errors. I’ve created it as 8 separate days each leading from and to the relevant B&Bs. The routes are all printed on crib sheets to be attached to the bike and converted to gpx files for the sat nav.

On route I hope to have time to enhance the crib sheets with obvious pointers at each instruction, such as signage, for other people to use. The trouble is, there are a lot of instructions. For instance, day 2 has over 180 separate turns! Even if I only spend 1 minute at each (allowing time to stop, get out a notepad, write a note, put the notepad away and accelerate back up to speed) that will be 3 hours stopped. And I have to cycle 127 miles that day.

I think I might be cycling in the dark a lot…

Lands End to John O’Groats Using Google Maps

In July this year I was meant to be cycling from London to Edinburgh and then back to London (LEL), an Audax event run once every four years. 1000 plus riders from over 90 countries riding 1,400 km in less than 96 hours.

But 10 days before the event I was hit by a lorry. I was lucky but did damage my knee and suffered from some gruesome road rash to my forearm. I limped to the line (quite literally) to start the event but only got as far as Thirsk in Yorkshire and had to head back to London. I didn’t think my knee would make it back – but it did.

Hoorah! I hear you cry.

But no! Because I made it back without the knee collapsing, it has been playing on my mind ever since that I just gave up – used the dodgy knee as an excuse when it got tough.

So, to prove my manly toughness to myself I am going to ride from Lands End to John O’Groats – just slightly further and over roughly the same sort of terrain. If the knee collapses I know I made the right decision on LEL. If it doesn’t then – hoorah! – all that training earlier in the year will not have been wasted.

I am riding in aid of Macmillans to help raise money on behalf of a friend at work whose father is terminally ill with cancer. They have expressed how helpful and understanding the charity has been in supporting their family and I thought it was a worthy cause, dealing with an illness that still sees off over a third of us.

Here is a link to the sponsorship page:

It is also an opportunity to create a new, more user friendly, route.

I have used the new Google map bicycle routing package that is being beta tested at the moment. To fully test it I have just types in Lands End to John O’Groats, adjusted the end points to the signposts and asked for directions. the plan is to follow the route no matter what! Could be the best route ever. Could be a disaster.l Let’s wait and see…